October 2012 - n°3
ESIGELEC launches a new teaching method: problem-based learning

The aim of the reform is to put students in a business situation by developing their independence, initiative and ability to work in a team.

Part of being an engineer is managing projects including technological, organisational, financial, social and people skills. This method already exists in the school with Project-based teaching (Creativity and Initiative Project and Engineering Project). It has now been enhanced with the launch of a new teaching method called Problem-Based Learning (PBL), which puts the student at the centre of learning.

This innovative teaching method has been in place since autumn 2012 in all the technological departments including the Information and Communication Technologies Departments (ICT), Embedded Systems and Instrumentation in the form of PBL and in the Electronics and Telecommunications departments and Electrical Engineering and Energies departments in the form of project-based teaching (inter-department project).
Activities take place in group classes with a tutor and individual work combined with review sessions to consolidate what students have learned and explain difficulties.

Profile of Problem-Based Learning in the ICT Department
Half of all first year ICT classes are taught using the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) method. Students work in randomly selected groups of 6. The first few days are spent on an exercise called “Kick Off” where the students build a bridge and tower out of spaghetti thus building a rapport with the group.
“We immediately put students in the same conditions as they will experience in their future careers in a company project team: the group is chosen for them, they don’t choose who they work with!” says Fadoua Bouzbouz, Research Professor. “This guarantees a good mix of girls and boys with different backgrounds (over 30% of the school’s students are international students) and educations (CPGE, DUT, BTS, Licences etc.). It instils a real spirit of open-mindedness into the project's process !”

As part of one of the ICT modules, ESIGELEC has partnered with the Armada's organiser (a major Rouen event that brings together the biggest sailmakers) to teach subjects related to this major June 2013 event. The organisers came to answer students’ questions in order to help them get a better understanding of customer requirements. F. Bouzbouz said: “The students will gradually learn to act as project leaders who have to do everything at the same time: listen to the client, manage the design team to find a technical and financial solution as well as ensuring the client understands the relevance of the suggested solution.”

Problem-Based Learning was developed to help students have active roles in their training. It is also in line with the CTI’s (Commission des Titres d’Ingénieurs) recommendations to focus Grandes Ecoles's teaching methods on acquiring not only knowledge but also skills related to occupational standards.

Contact : Sophie Houlier, Head of Tuition, Exams and Courses, sophie.houlier@esigelec.fr
Christine Rouèche, Head of the Learning Innovation Unit, Head of the ICT Department, christine.roueche@esigelec.fr
Habib Balde, Head of Engineering and Strategic Projects, habib.balde@esigelec.fr